This digital painting started as a quick lunchtime sketch. I had no plans for what to paint, and with limited time I like to start with photo scraps, combining different elements from multiple photos that I have gathered together over the years. I mostly use photos from CgTextures.com, copyright free photos, but for this painting I used some awesome photos taken in New Zealand by fellow Brown Baggers Ronan O'Neill and Lisa O'Connor!
This technique mostly involves grabbing photos that I find interesting, throwing them onto the canvas, playing with the blending modes in the Layer palette, positioning, flipping and erasing until I find something cool. If a photo doesn't do much for me I delete it and grab another. This part of the process is really quick and loose, I am looking for interesting forms that I can work into later.
At this stage I have found an interesting shot - a lot of these forms are still visible in the final piece.
I add some mist and sculpt into the forms. I start using some custum brushes at this point. Here a cloud brush is used for the mist, there are a lot of time saving brushes available online, I use them on a daily basis as a texture artist. Any way of saving time is always great, especially when you are trying to do something during lunch!
I introduce more photo elements, rock structures and clouds from various photos at random. I'm still unsure where I am going to go with all of this, but the journey is fun for me.
Below you can see the first hint of colour I've added. I do this by creating a new layer set to soft light, I experiment with different sky tones, I enhance the lighting with a colour dodge layer. This is one of my favourite things to do in Photoshop but it has to be used wisely, overuse of colour dodge can look very fake!
I continue with more photo and texture overlays, this is at about the 15-20 minutes mark. I feel the overall composition and tone is working nicely together. I often adjust the saturation on the photo scraps I bring in, so that they sit well into the atmosphere I am trying to create with the lighting and the mist.
More overall lighting adjustments, refinement of forms and I add some foreground trees for scale. These are more custum brushes, basic tree stamps that you adjust to fit.
I increase the resolution of my canvas at this stage, more refinement of forms. I spend about an hour at this stage, adding in smaller details. I start to think about adding in a foreground character...
Being a fan of three-legged walker droid type things, I decide to go with this - a steam-punkish droid/vehicle... thing!
So after a few attempts at its legs I have my foreground character in place.
And the finished piece, I added a bit of motion blur to my droid/vehicle's legs, some blowing leaves and dirt behind him. It helps bring some life and movement to the painitng. Some final details here and there and I'm done!
Overall I spent maybe 3 to 4 hours on this using Adobe Photoshop CS5 and a Wacom Intuos 4.
After finishing this painting I decided to do a little character sheet for my droid. This was a lot of fun to do, especially trying a few different poses to give it some character!
Now, to design the driver!